We all love the song Photograph by Ed Sheeran and his other compositions as well, but that has not stopped him from being accused of plagiarism. There was a recent out of court settlement of £16m for the issue. Even with Ed Sheeran’s stranglehold on the UK Top 40 the star still had to fight a plagiarism issue for which he opted for an out of court settlement. The issue arose because two writers who had worked on the song Amazing found similarities of their song with the Photograph song of Ed Sheeran. The legal team that represented them had also fought a legal battle with Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke in a case concerning Blurred Lines.
There are other ways that artists work their way around to avoiding open legal battles from other groups or artists whose songs or works could have inspired their works in noticeable ways. For instance, credits of Shape of You song include writers of No Scrubs of TLC. There are also speculations that Marvin Gaye’s song Let’s Get It On has inspired lines of Sheeran’s “Thinking out Loud”.
Ed Sheeran should not be the only person to point out who has to walk the fine line when composing songs and crediting those whose works might be too similar to his. Mark Ronson had to go the same way to credit the writers of the song Oops Upside Your Head for Uptown Funk. A case where a band was successful in holding their own is Zed Zeppelin and Stairway to Heaven.
All such instances lead to certain questions. With the increasingly connected world of information, it is possible to detect slightest instances of plagiarism. Hence, the questions that arise are several. For instance, at the time of song composition, the writers are either ignorant or incompetent to ensure that their compositions are original. Again, if their works are inspired by that of others, why is it that they need to be unfairly chastised to pay homage to music works of earlier artists. Also, it leads to a question that, after 70 years of pop music, is it mathematically less possible to compose unique and completely original compositions.
Those who work around music definitely feel the scars of such battles and conflicts. For instance, label runners state that they need to be cautious when they support and publish works of artists and hence, they try and spot such problems quickly so that they can be prevented from happening. There are musicologists who can help in such cases, but they often need to be showcased the similarities, to begin with. They will then delve into the forensics of the songs to provide sound logic to showcase originality of a song.